European Interest

Allegations of voter-microtargeting data in Germany

Flickr/jerome_Munich/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
A picture from an FDP electoral campaign in 2011.

The Deutsche Post subsidiary Deutsche Post Direkt, which offers targeted-mailing concepts to clients, has denied allegations it sold personal data to two major political parties in Germany since 2005.

The Bild am Sonntag newspaper on April 1 reported that Deutsche Post Direkt “flogged” client microtargeting data to clients, including German political parties such as the Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Free Democrats (FDP). It reported that that the two parties had bought “more than a billion” details of personal data about potential voters from the subsidiary, which offers targeted-mailing concepts to its clients.

As reported, by Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, the subsidiary insists that it never sells details of addresses or individual households, and that the data it offers to clients — which it calls microcells — is based on “a standard of 6.6 households” to work out “statistical probabilities”. The company stressed that it adheres to Germany’s strict data protection laws.

Bild, however, reported that the CDU and the FDP had spent “five-figure sums” to acquire such data in the run-up to the German national elections last September.

According to DW, the CDU confirmed that it bought data from Deutsche Post to help with door-to-door campaigning. The data was completely anonymised, the party claimed in a statement, insisting that “all of the CDU’s digital activities are subject to the relevant data protection regulations.”

According to the FDP, it only used anonymized data in its election campaign. FDP’s Marco Buschmann said on Facebook the data his party bought from Deutsche Post “merely indicates a probability where we might find a voter leaning towards the FDP”.

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